Best Guitar Strings

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What good is a guitarist without strings? Though it may seem obvious, great strings really make a world of a difference for guitar players, and not just because they’re literally needed in order to produce sound. Playing with the right kind of strings can transform tone as well as seriously influence style and performance. There are tons of options for guitarists to choose but we’ve outlined the basic information everyone should start off with in our buyer’s guide below.

Best Electric Guitar Strings:

A guitar with no strings is like a tree falling in the forest because with no one to hear it, does it even make a sound? Well, the jury may still be out when it comes to the tree, but we know for sure that a guitar is mute without strings. The electric guitar is capable of making so many different sounds; guitarists can strum, bend, and attack the six strings with unrelenting ferocity or a subtle, gentle approach. These are the best electric guitar strings, with each item here available in multiple different gauges to best fit your performance style, they're manufactured with nickel-plated steel, and are endorsed by nationally touring, major label recording artists and performers.

Ernie Ball 2221 Nickel Regular Slinky Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball’s 2221 Regular Slinky electric guitar strings are something of a standard in the world of guitarists, but don’t mistake that for being average. These nickel played steel strings feel great on your fingers and produce a sound that has made them a go-to choice for some of the greats. Read Full Review

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    Ernie Ball 2221 Nickel Regular Slinky Guitar Strings

    Elixir Nanoweb Anti-Rust Super Light Electric Guitar Strings Set

    Elixir has a secret about how they keep their Super Light NANOWEB strings sounding so great for such long stretches of time, but it’s a secret that they’re willing to share with the world. The NANOWEB coating helps protect these strings from unwanted dirt and gunk. Read Full Review

    Elixir Nanoweb Anti-Rust Super Light Electric Guitar Strings Set

    Ernie Ball 2223 Super Slinky Electric Guitar Strings (9-42) (New)

    Ernie Ball’s Super Slinky electric guitar strings take everything that’s great about their Standard Slinky set, and make them even brighter and lighter. Guitar legends over the years have preferred these strings for their great sound and extreme playability. Read Full Review

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      Ernie Ball 2223 Super Slinky Electric Guitar Strings (9-42) (New)

      DAddario NYXL Electric Guitar Strings

      D’Addario NYXL strings are built to be tough as nails but fortunately don’t feel that harsh on your fingers. Essentially strings on steroids, these strings are made for players who don’t want to hold back with their performance. Read Full Review

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        DAddario NYXL Electric Guitar Strings

        GHS GBTNT Boomers

        Since 1964, GHS Boomers have been a gold standard for electric guitar strings. Known for their powerful sound and bright tone, these strings have been a favorite for players across all different styles of music. Read Full Review

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          GHS GBTNT Boomers

          Best Budget Electric Guitar Strings:

          Guitar strings are an absolutely essential component in any guitarist’s setup, but that doesn’t mean that acquiring them (and not just the ones that you have on your guitar, but backups to have just in case) doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, there are many options available out there that sound great and last long, but are available at an affordable price. These are the best budget electric guitar strings, with each set we've selected available in different gauges to suit different players and their playing styles, they're designed to maintain tone and playability for long durations of time without needing to change out the strings, and are built from steel configurations to make them durable yet also playable.

          Ernie Ball 2221 Nickel Regular Slinky Guitar Strings

          Ernie Ball Regular Slinky electric guitar strings are one of the most commonly used sets amongst musicians in both amateur and professional circles, and it’s not just because of their affordable price. These strings offer impeccable tone and are built to withstand the regular wear-and-tear one encounters through playing. Read Full Review

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            Ernie Ball 2221 Nickel Regular Slinky Guitar Strings

            D'Addario XL ProSteels

            Top guitarists throughout the music industry insist on playing with D’Addario strings. And with their XL line of electric guitar strings, now anyone can get that trademark bright sound and great feel, all at a very budget-friendly cost. Read Full Review

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              D'Addario XL ProSteels

              Musician's Gear Electric 10 Nickel Plated Steel Guitar Strings

              Solid tone, smooth feel, and reliable performance, there’s not much else that one can really ask for when considering electric guitar strings. Musician’s Gear strings more than meet the requirement in all three of those categories, at a price that makes them a great option for players across the board. Read Full Review

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                Musician's Gear Electric 10 Nickel Plated Steel Guitar Strings

                DR Strings Drop Down Tuning DDT Electric 7 String Set

                Guitarists who utilize alternate/drop tunings have often faced the challenge in finding strings that can dive into the lower end of the tuning scale, yet still maintain tone and durability despite the altered state. DR Strings has catered to this need with their Drop-Down Tuning strings, which are designed to deliver a clear and pristine sound even at their lowest-sounding. Read Full Review

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                  DR Strings Drop Down Tuning DDT Electric 7 String Set

                  DAddario NYXL Electric Guitar Strings

                  D’Addario took extra steps to ensure that their NYXL electric guitar strings would be able to withstand whatever you throw at them. They’re stronger than most strings on the market, a feat that is impressive considering their affordable price tag. Read Full Review

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                    DAddario NYXL Electric Guitar Strings

                    Best Acoustic Guitar Strings:

                    The sound of a strummed acoustic guitar is instantly recognizable and distinct, but without strings, the instrument itself is practically useless. Guitarists rely on acoustic guitar strings not just to play their axe, but also to deliver the tone and playability of the instrument. These are the best acoustic guitar strings, with each set here made from high quality bronze strings, they come in a variety of gauges to suit a player’s style and feel, and they're manufactured to resist corrosion which is often a major deterrent to the tone and feel of the strings.

                    Vibe Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

                    Vibe brings a top-level degree of durability to their acoustic guitar strings, along with impeccable tone and sustain. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, these strings can help bring your playing experience to the next level. Read Full Review

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                      Vibe Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

                      John Pearse 600L Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

                      John Pearse may be a relatively smaller name in the acoustic guitar string business when compared to its contemporaries, but that doesn’t mean that this bluegrass-centric string company doesn’t know what it’s doing. Their 600L strings have a warm tone that is incredibly playable from the second you string them up to weeks after the fact. Read Full Review

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                        John Pearse 600L Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

                        Elixir Polyweb Acoustic Guitar Strings

                        Elixir is committed to providing guitarists with strings that are equipped with extra protection from the normal wear-and-tear that can come from frequent playing. Their coated Polyweb 80/20 strings not only preserve tone, but also offer a smooth and easy feeling that players will enjoy. Read Full Review

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                          Elixir Polyweb Acoustic Guitar Strings

                          D'Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Light Acoustic Guitar Strings

                          D’Addario bridges together the worlds of high quality and low cost with their EJ16 acoustic guitar strings. These strings are geared more towards bringing out the mid-range of your tone, and are constructed to last longer than other strings. Read Full Review

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                            D'Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Light Acoustic Guitar Strings

                            Martin SP 7200 Phosphor Bronze Lifespan Coated Acoustic Strings

                            Martin is a pillar of acoustic guitars, so it would only make sense that they might know a thing or two about the strings that are applied to these instruments. And despite the fact that the typical Martin acoustic tends to be a bit more high-end, their strings can be used with guitars across the spectrum, bringing a high quality sound to axes of all types. Read Full Review

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                              Martin SP 7200 Phosphor Bronze Lifespan Coated Acoustic Strings

                              Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Strings:

                              Though it’s totally acceptable to adorn your acoustic-electric guitar with any kind of string suited for a regular acoustic guitar, many players prefer to opt for something that is better suited to the added dynamic that the electronic component brings to the table. It’s not a totally out-there line of thinking, considering acoustic-electric guitars pay particular scrutiny to the sounds that emanate directly from the strings. With that in mind, here are the best acoustic-electric guitar strings, with each selection presented here comprised of bronze strings, feature components to ensure that tone lasts over a long period of time, and are designed to provide a smoother playing experience that produces less unwanted noise during performance.

                              DR Strings ZAE11 Zebra Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings

                              DR’s ZAE11 Zebra strings are one of the few string sets specifically designed with the acoustic-electric guitar in mind. They provide a richer tone that particularly sounds great with guitars with piezo pick-ups under the bride or magnetic pick-ups in the sound hole. Read Full Review

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                                DR Strings ZAE11 Zebra Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings

                                GHS Acoustic-Electric White Bronze Guitar String Set

                                GHS has been making guitar strings since 1964, so they definitely know a thing or two about coaxing a perfect sound and build out of the products that they release into the world. Their White Bronze Alloy 52 light acoustic guitar strings are perfectly suited for acoustic-electric guitars, due to their increased volume and shimmering clarity. Read Full Review

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                                  GHS Acoustic-Electric White Bronze Guitar String Set

                                  Everly 7011 Acoustics 80/20 Light Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings

                                  Everly’s 7011 80/20 acoustic strings offer a wide range of tone and dynamic that makes them ideal for acoustic-electric guitars. These strings offer impressive sustain and a balanced tone that walks on both sides of the acoustic/electric line. Read Full Review

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                                    Everly 7011 Acoustics 80/20 Light Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings

                                    Elixir Polyweb Acoustic Guitar Strings

                                    The sound and playability that Elixir’s Polyweb 80/20 strings offer is particularly well-suited for acoustic-electric guitars. The coating that all of the strings sport make these strings a surefire bet for excellent tone and seamless performance. Read Full Review

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                                      Elixir Polyweb Acoustic Guitar Strings

                                      Martin SP 7200 Phosphor Bronze Lifespan Coated Acoustic Strings

                                      If you know anything about acoustic guitars, you know that Martin is one of the forefathers of making high-quality, great-sounding instruments. That brand of care and precision also goes for their strings, which make an excellent fit for both acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars alike. Read Full Review

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                                        Martin SP 7200 Phosphor Bronze Lifespan Coated Acoustic Strings
                                         

                                        Guitar String Buyer's Guide

                                        The best way to get a sound opinion on which guitar strings work best for you is try them out and experiment with how different variations affect the way you play. But before you even get to that step, there are a few things to consider before purchasing new guitar strings.

                                        It’s important to not interchangeably swap guitar strings with instruments they’re not designed for. Even in the case of acoustic guitars, putting steel strings on a classical guitar can seriously damage its body, as the neck of classical guitars are unable to handle the tension of steel strings.

                                        String Types

                                        The type of guitar you own will determine what type of strings you’ll need. Electric guitars and acoustic guitars use different types of strings. Even within the acoustic category, there are differences between classical guitar strings and regular acoustic guitar strings.

                                        Electric
                                        Electric guitar strings are most commonly made from materials such as nickel-plated steel, pure nickel, stainless steel, chrome, titanium, or cobalt. Additionally, some electric guitar strings are polymer-coated whereas others are color-coated for visual effect. The composition of the strings also greatly impacts their sound; for instance, stainless steel electric guitar strings have a bright and crisp tone while pure nickel strings are warmer.

                                        Acoustic
                                        Acoustic guitar strings are similarly made up of a variety of materials including bronze, phosphor bronze, and brass. These materials also can change the tone of a guitar, whether it’s the warm and dark sound of phosphor bronze or the brighter jangling sound of brass strings. Classical acoustic guitars use nylon strings which are better suited for the classical and flamenco style these instruments are most frequently used for.

                                        String Gauges

                                        A string’s gauge is defined by its thickness which is measured in thousandths of an inch.   Regardless of guitar string type, string gauge affects the tone of a guitar as well as the playability. Certain genres are better suited to specific gauges, but a lot of it also boils down to a guitarist’s preference.

                                        Light Gauge
                                        Lighter strings are easier to play, carry a lighter and brighter sound, and are more conducive to string bending and super-fast playing styles. This makes them the string gauge of choice for musicians who play blues, rock, and funk.

                                        Because of their thinness, they are also more susceptible to breaking and can sometimes sound too thin. For acoustic guitars, the lightest string gauge are typically 0.10. For electric guitars, they can go as light as .008.

                                        Heavy Gauge
                                        Heavier gauge strings produce more volume and sustain in both electric and acoustic guitars. Metal guitarists who play in alternate tunings such as the popular Drop-D tuning are better suited for heavier guitar strings due to their ability to handle lower notes.

                                        These strings are typically recommended for beginners, since they’re more challenging to play with, especially if you’re attempting note bend, compared to the ease of lighter strings which can be easily bent using one finger. Acoustic guitar strings tend to not get any thicker than .059, whereas electric guitar strings can get as heavy as .054.

                                        Changing Strings

                                        Guitar strings need to regularly be replaced in order to maintain great tone and easy playability. Just how often you should be changing your strings depends on how frequently you’re playing, whether or not you’re playing in environments that expose the strings to things like sweat, smoke, and humidity, as well as how aggressive you play with them.

                                        There are certain signs guitarists can look for to know when they’re due for a string change. If the strings are getting more difficult to tune and maintain, it’s likely time to restring. Other indicators your strings need to be changed out include discoloration or rust on the surface of the strings, undesirably “flat” tone, and any sort of discomfort from playing with the strings.

                                        String Maintenance

                                        You can extend the shelf life of your guitar strings by following a few good protocols before and after you play. Wiping your strings down with a clean cloth after use can keep them in better condition. Additionally, washing your hands before playing can in turn help keep your strings cleaner. Because strings can and will break, it’s  a good idea to keep an extra set on hand in case you suffer an inevitable string crisis while playing onstage, in a recording session, or during a rehearsal.

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